Electronic Cigarettes: A Toolkit to Address Policy Needs of Communities and Public Health in Kansas
Assistance working with the media, writing news releases, and how to have a media event
The Community Media Kit is a great resource tool to promote Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition and its work to media contacts and potential members.
Sample Letters to the Editor - Inspiring Action
Sample letter regarding Hookah Bars
Sample letter regarding Earth Day
Sample letter regarding World No Tobacco Day
Working with the media to promote your message or your cause
For additional assistance with media efforts, contact TFKC at 785-272-8396 or Outreach Coordinators in your region from the Tobacco Use Prevention Program with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Kansas Press Association to access addresses for some Kansas newspapers. Check on payment requirements for access.
Kansas Broadcasters Association provides access to local television and radio stations. Check on membership requirements.
Adapted from materials developed by Clean Air Kansas City.
Letters to the editor are a powerful way to reach your community and let them know about important issues that need to be addressed. For many elected officials, it is one of the first pages they turn to and a recent survey by the Center for Practical Politics found that they are “one of the most influential channels by which an active citizen can
The following are guidelines and tips for writing letters to the editor in your community:
EPPIC-a helpful tool for developing content for letters to the editor
Engage: Grab the reader’s attention with a startling fact, a descriptive image, or a strong statement about a serious problem.
Propose: State what needs to be done to solve the problem or issue.
Personalize: If applicable, write about how the problem or issue has affected you
Illustrate: Describe why taking the action mentioned in the above sections is important
and the benefits for community of doing so.
Call to Action: Call on elected officials and other citizens to move forward or take a
Tips for writing a letter to the editor
Letter should be short and concise, no more than 250 words. Some newspapers
have specific limitations on number of words.
Make sure to include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Most
newspapers will contact you to verify that you are the author of the letter.
If possible, cite a recent article, editorial, or column in you letter. It increases the
chance of being printed.
If you cite an article, editorial, or column, make sure to mention the title and date
and give a very brief statement what it was concerning.
Stay away from copying sample letters; your own words are more effective.
Mention city officials or legislators by name, and they will be more likely to see your
If you write to criticize someone or something, begin with a word of appreciation,
agreement, or praise. Don’t be merely critical; be respectful and polite.
Don’t be afraid to appeal to morals, ethics, or a sense of justice in addition to the
logical and/or scientific support for your issue.
Humor can be an effective way to bring attention to a subject in a way many
readers will remember.
If you have credentials that are applicable to the subject matter, mention them.
Only one exclamation point per letter!
A well written and grammatically correct letter is more likely to be printed. Have
someone proof-read your letter.
Follow-up. If you letter is not printed, contact the editor and ask if they received
your letter and if they intend to print it. Some newspapers receive many letters
and yours could have been misplaced.
Media events are additional ways of publicizing your mission or your issue. They involve careful planning because they cannot be set up quickly. Follow the steps for setting up an event that will draw media and public attention.
1. Any media event has to be noteworthy. Having a variety of partners involved in the effort also increases the ability to organize an event, get a good turnout of people and media organizations, and increase the public relations possibilities. It is also best to have something that lends itself to a good photo or video opportunit to capture the concept of the event so that reporters do not have to rely on words only.
2. It has to be timed for best media coverage or the most noteworthy section outlined ahead of time by a media advisory or alert to the various electronic and print reporters. Often times events planned for late morning or early afternoon have the best chance of making the 6 o'clock news or the next day's newspaper.
3. Packets must be prepared ahead to time for distribution to the media to provide a press release outlining the day's event, the purpose of the event, and the expected outcomes for the event. Additional fact sheets may be appropriate as may be brief biographies of people involved in the presentation.
4. Spokespersons should be selected because of their support of the cause, and if they are well-known to the community their comments may be even more noteworthy.
5. Details of the event (location, theme, activities, sequence, participants, display materials) etc., need to be worked out ahead of time, preferably by a committee of partners commited to the topic. If items such as podiums, microphones, props or displays are needed, they should be gathered and set up at least an hour before the start of the event.
6. Several days prior to the event, prepare a brief news advisory or media alert for news organizations giving a brief outline of the time, date, place and reason for the event. It may be best to indicate if their is a specific happening that would make a more interesting focal point for media coverage. A follow up phone call to media outlets should be made the day of the event to ensure good coverage.
7. The day of the event a media contact person should be in charge of distributing packets and of making sure that media staff know exactly where to go and what people are prepared to present information and to answer questions.
8. Make sure that the event coverage starts on time.
9. Follow up with thank you's to those who attend the event and arrange to deliver packets to those media organizations that may have conflicts with attending.
See the information for setting up a Media Event. A media conference involves a specific release of important information, a demand for action by policy makers, or a special announcement of a new project, new collaboration or a defense or explanation of a particular crisis.
As with all contacts with media organizations, truth is an absolute requirement, but accuracy of explanations enters into the mix. If questions are asked for which the spokesperson has not answers, make sure that the questions are taken seriously and that the information that is requested is made available as quickly as possible.
A major consideration is to not overdue media conferences. They should be timely to the topic, of significant importance, and relevant to the particular policy issue under discussion.
Someone in your organization should be charged with ensuring that an accurate listing of media contacts is maintained, particularly newspaper contact information, and the listing of electronic media contacts for both radio and television in your community or region.
In addition, your media person should make it a point to get to know the media folks and to let them know who has the information and the background to provide them the information and sources they need. One effective way of working with media is to provide them hints or suggestions for stories or articles that pertain to your area. Ensuring that you are able to provide them with appropriate people to act as spokespersons or to provide a specific viewpoint or story on your particular topic is also important. Let them know that you can be a source for your topic and that you will do everything you can to ensure that they get accurate and timely information. In addition, when contacted for information, be aware that media people are often working under a very strict deadline, so make sure you know when the information has to be provided. If you cannot provide the information, give them another source or give them a definite time that you will get back to them with what they need.
Issuing a media release can be an effective way of taking a stand on an issue, promoting a program, announcing a new development, or setting out a new initiative.
1. You have to know your local media contacts and ensure that you have the right names, titles and organizations to ensure that you are providing the release to all the relevant outlets.
2. Ensure that your topic is significant; and do not overload your media contacts with frequent releases.
3. Make sure that your written material is clear with the who, what, where, when and why clearly indicated.
4. Make sure that at the top of the release you put the date you wish the information released and provide a contact name and phone number in case additional information is needed.
5. Use quotations from significant partners to highlight the concepts you are trying to outline.
6. The press release should be no more than one page, two at the most.
7. In later paragraphs outline the background of your organization and your organization's overall mission.
8. If your piece is well-written, some media sources will transmit it very closely to what you have provided them.
9. Ensure that the spokespeople quoted in the media release are also available for contact, and possibly for interview by electronic media personnel who may want video to bolster the article.
Links to other media resources
The Tobacco Use Prevention Program of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment also provides media resources for those involved in tobacco control grants or activities. Click on the resources link for the KDHE's TUPP program.
Youth media resources are also available by linking to a youth media toolkit.